Many years ago, when my new life with the Bible in my hands had just started, I wanted to immediately learn and understand everything written in this book. I even remember my passionate prayers about that. Back then it seemed like attaining a complete and perfect understanding was quite possible – after all, this is the Father’s message to his children, and as such it should be very clear to them. The idea of multiple interpretations had not yet entered my head.
I recall the time I got very interested in texts about the Holy Spirit not permitting someone to go to certain places, for instance, “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the provinc
e of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” (Acts 16:6-7). As a new believer, in my imagination I painted a picture of the great men of faith coming to a service and suddenly being struck by an audible voice from above: “Hear me, my children! It is not the time to go to Asia – not yet!” Possibly, it happened precisely so – the details were not given to us. But the experience of following the Lord for many years lets us see that in most cases we don’t hear instructions from heaven and instead need to simply analyze the circumstances at hand that either open or close the doors before us.
Just recently, working on the preparations for a national seminar for Shabbat school teachers, we saw the wise guiding hand of the Almighty. Every national seminar requires a long process of planning and preparation that takes two to three months. This time it was difficult at the outset: having checked the calendar several times, we were unable to find a fitting date in either November or December (the two months when we normally have the winter seminar) because of the different holidays and other conferences and events. The only date left was December 27 – too inconvenient a date, or so it seemed.
All we could do was pray and prepare for the seminar in spite of that inconvenience. Then, in mid-December, Jerusalem was covered with snow. And not just the ordinary amount that melts in a day or two, but so much that no one could remember anything like it in their lifetime. The first joy of seeing the fluffy white flakes soon gave way to all kinds of problems: fallen trees, power outages, two meter high snow drifts, slippery roads inside the city, and closed roads in and out of the city. Snow-drowned Jerusalem was completely paralyzed and cut off from the rest of Israel.
The “catastrophe” lasted for over a week. How great is our Lord – he simply did not allow us to plan the seminar for that snowy week! He saw to it that we planned for the best date possible, and did not have to cancel an event which is probably important in his eyes. That is what I was meditating on a week before the seminar, in the middle of intense preparations for it. But what about the inconvenience of the date? It turned out that some congregations were unable to participate, while others registered and arrived first. In the end, the total number of participants was not smaller than usual – over a hundred teachers from different Israeli congregations. And most of them came from Jerusalem.
After the seminar, I went through the feedback forms filled out by participants. As I read all the comments saying that the seminar was eye-opening as far as the theme was concerned, and was therefore very important, I stopped doubting. Apparently, the seminar was indeed a blessing for many. And the Lord guided us and corrected our human plans for their benefit. To him be all the glory!